New MEP asks Commission for Turkish to become official EU language

The Republic of Cyprus is also a member of the Commonwealth and Turkish Cypriots who hold EU travel documents or who fulfil the conditions for obtaining them, are considered EU citizens. However, Turkish is not currently considered to be an official EU language. [Christopher Rose/Flickr]

New Cypriot MEP Akel Niyazi Kizilyurek has asked the European Commission if Turkish could be the EU’s 25th language. According to the MEP, this would be one way to prepare for the future reunification of the island of Cyprus. EURACTIV’s partner Ouest-France reports.

The leftist Cypriot MEP called for the procedures for the introduction of Turkish as an official EU language to be speeded up, Cyprus Mail reported on Tuesday (24 September).

“EU citizens who are Turkish Cypriots are certainly expecting their mother tongue to become an official EU language,” the MEP said in a written question to the European Commission. Akel Niyazi Kizilyurek is the first Turkish Cypriot elected as an MEP by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

For Turkish Cypriots

The northern part of Cyprus is still occupied by the Turkish military, as a response to the attempted coup in the 1970s. The Greek part of the island joined the EU in 2004 and adopted the euro in 2008.

The Republic of Cyprus is also a member of the Commonwealth and Turkish Cypriots who hold EU travel documents or who fulfil the conditions for obtaining them, are considered EU citizens.

The Cypriot MEP had campaigned for the Turkish language becoming an official EU language before the EU Parliament on 26 May 2019.

In his view, this would contribute to better integration of Turkish Cypriots into the EU institutions and would prepare for the island’s reunification.

Becoming the 25th language of the EU

The EU and its 28 member states have 24 official languages. The number of official languages has increased in proportion to the accession of new member states.

The only official languages in EU member states that are not recognised at the EU level are Luxembourgish and Turkish, which is common in Cyprus. Luxembourg has not formally asked for its language to become an official EU language.

According to the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, once a language acquires official EU status, all EU documents need to be made accessible in that language to all EU citizens.

During debates in the plenary session of the European Parliament, every MEP must also be able to speak in any of the official EU languages.

But for Turkish to become an official language recognised by the EU, all member states need to agree unanimously. However, there is currently no consensus on the matter in the Council of the EU.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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